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Old 21st August 2013, 12:43 PM   #1
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Location: Ulverston in Cumbria
Default Ortofon VMS20/30

I have had an Ortofon VMS30 (formerly a 20E with an upgraded stylus) for over 30 years now and it has done sterling service in a variety of arms. Latterly it was fitted to a Dual CS505-2 in which it sounded pretty good. I have just bought a 505-4 which I am going to refurbish and I am wondering what to do about a cartridge. Is this Ortofon really a good match for the Dual? I am going to get the cartridge and stylus professionally checked over but after that I have a couple of options. a) If it is ok, keep it, perhaps replacing the stylus if required or b) buy another cartridge more suited to the Dual. The question is, am I best hanging on to the VMS rather than looking for a replacement?
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Old 21st August 2013, 01:57 PM   #2
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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I have happily used a VMS20E for many years.

The main issue is whether it suits the arm or not. Calculate the arm-cartridge resonance and see if it sits in the correct region between warp frequencies and audio frequencies.
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Old 21st August 2013, 02:32 PM   #3
kvaal is offline kvaal  Norway
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This arm/cart combo is very good, probably as good as it can be.I would keep the cartridge.
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Old 21st August 2013, 03:23 PM   #4
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That's music to my ears (excuse the pun). I know this is a well liked cartridge and I have always enjoyed its smooth delivery. It was probably upgraditus but I always wondered whether there would be better matches out there.
Hopefully going to get Audio-origami to check it over along with the spare styli I have and hopefully it can go back to making sweet music soon.
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Old 21st August 2013, 08:55 PM   #5
tedr is offline tedr  United States
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I'm over in the USA, I have the VMS20E model, the stylus seems to no longer be on Ortofon's lists, there is a stock of the 20E stylus with a US retailer here Needle Doctor
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Old 21st August 2013, 11:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedr View Post
I'm over in the USA, I have the VMS20E model, the stylus seems to no longer be on Ortofon's lists, there is a stock of the 20E stylus with a US retailer here Needle Doctor
I, too, had a VMS20E once, though it really didn't suit the Linn LVV I was using at the time!

Yes, sadly Ortofon have discontinued this stylus. They announced this last year, citing unavailability of certain components as the reason. The VMS30 stylus hasn't been available for ages, AFAIK.

There is clearly still stock of the VMS20E stylus out there, but when availability becomes a problem the choices are an aftermarket stylus of uncertain quality (and those I've seen advertised are pretty basic, being very similar to the replacements for lower-end VMS cartridges) or a new cartridge. The OM20/30 are still available from some online sources, and are fairly close in technology to the VMS models. These use the same stylus tips (nude elliptical and Fine Line respectively) as the VMS20/30.

HTH

Mark

Last edited by markinuk; 21st August 2013 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 22nd August 2013, 09:32 AM   #7
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Yes, sadly Ortofon have discontinued this stylus.
Useful to know that. I bought a new one about 4 years ago but don't use it all that often so maybe it will keep going OK.
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Old 22nd August 2013, 10:57 AM   #8
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The fact that the original 20E replacements are still currently available is comforting. I am getting my current VMS30 stylus professionally inspected shortly so will make a decision on the way ahead then. It will be down to ordering a replacement 20E stylus if required or looking for a newer cartridge with perhaps better stylus availabilty in the future, i.e. OM series or perhaps 2M. Never easy when you tread the Vinyl route!
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Old 22nd August 2013, 10:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by davecooper View Post
The fact that the original 20E replacements are still currently available is comforting. I am getting my current VMS30 stylus professionally inspected shortly so will make a decision on the way ahead then. It will be down to ordering a replacement 20E stylus if required or looking for a newer cartridge with perhaps better stylus availabilty in the future, i.e. OM series or perhaps 2M. Never easy when you tread the Vinyl route!
I think it's worth noting that Ortofon stated, when they announced they were discontinuing the VMS20E stylus, that they were making up a last batch using the parts they had been able to source. I imagine all those are now in the market, never to be replaced. From the tone of the announcement, it was clear they were aware how popular this cartridge has been over the years.

Ortofon sold the VMS cartridge design to Benz Micro after they discontinued it, and they were reissued under the Empire brand name, which Benz had also acquired.

Unlike the VMS designs, the OM body is still being made, as Ortofon are keeping the OM3E and 5E available, doubtless because they are still supplied by some turntable manufacturers as starter cartridges. It's also the basis for their popular DJ cartridges. So long as the better styli are available, an OM body can always be upgraded. For the moment, though, complete OM series cartridges up to the OM40 can still be bought from Germany.

It seems the 2M designs are a bit different in sound from the older Ortofons, perhaps less mellifluous but exhibiting greater clarity. I now use an Ortofon MC, and my most recent experience of one of their MM designs was the 530 MkII, which has also been discontinued (but is still available for now).

Hope these notes help!

Mark

Last edited by markinuk; 22nd August 2013 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 23rd August 2013, 08:44 AM   #10
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I sold perhaps 100's of VMS 20 and maybe 1000 . They are worth having re-tipped by Expert Stylus in Surrey UK . There is something slightly magical about the VMS 20 . It is a more practical cartridge compared with the Shure V15's and in my opinion not bettered by the Shure . I seem to remember it likes 220 pF loading . Often a loading device sits between the cartridge pins . If not NPO ceramic are good . My hunch is VMS is not outclassed by any turntable . B&O MMC 20 was held in equal regard if wanting similar/better and willing to pay more at the time ( I sold VMS 20 for 25 and MMC 20 for 99 ) . JVC X 1 also ( grand dad of all sophisticated cartridges I feel , Z1 is less good ) . A&R P77 is good , an Expert stylus I think ? The Grado's of what is made now would seem OK .

OM range are OK . They all sound alike to me and slightly less good . FF15E also is a VMS 20 more or less . VMS 10 I think was it's re-branding .

As compliance is seldom quoted ( and if it is I don't trust it ) I would tend to say for a low mass arm look for designs that seem to suggest low playing weights . 1.7 g is suggested by Denon a a practical minimum . However a Dual works fine at 1.25g with a VMS 20 . Being able to go to 1.7 g is good as it is suggested that it is a mechanical optimum . Spherical need more ( 2.2 g perhaps ) . Do not be put off , as the BBC supposedly said any properly designed arm and cartridge that is successfully tracking at < 3 g using a clean stylus should do no harm . I think the old Decca London makes me say that is not universal . It tracks test records fine . Not sure it tracks music so well . People mistake it's high output as a special quality ( it is ) . The Shure M44-7 is as good in my opinion and looks after the records better . Try one in an SME 5 , I have many times .

AT95 is OK ( Linn K18 when with a posh stylus ) . I seems to remember AT 95 has the lowest measured distortion of any PU ( < 1% THD ) !!! VMS 20 not far behind and more consistent .

BTW . Rega ( Roy Gandy ) always thought Fo for an arm might ideally be 8Hz . 12 Hz is often stated . His opinion being 12 Hz is far too high . Equally 6Hz is getting a bit low for warps . If there ever was a more confusing thing I don't know what it is . To state something mostly ignored , you are mostly listening to arm mass . If someone gives you an unsuitable high grade cartridge that you put in a Dual , you might feel very disappointed ( bland and lifeless ) .Try something simple . Put a coin on the head-shell with Blue-tak and retry it after resetting the playing weight . It might turnout to be the biggest upgrade you ever did . This is because you are bring the cartridge back into the range it was designed to work at ( Denon 103 especailly ) . The Dual arm is good enough to say it should equal nearly anything and adding is easier than subtracting weight . The mass once found might more imaginatively used . Like a motorcycle place the mass where the rider would be and not over the handlebars ( in front of stylus is bad ) . I seems to remember side to side resonance is best kept different to up and down ( Orfotfon test record required , you must get one if you can ) . Jerry has the wine shop for VTA is a must on the Ortofon disk . Dual 704 ( 721 ) if you see one is great , it has VTA I think ? Side force correction is ultra important . Use a few black grooves to view the tendency of the stylus to move into the centre of the turntable .Reject it is it fly's back . It is no good using an oscilloscope if the records are not produced for that use and/or damaged . If you have some mono records set until chancels require least side force to balance as best they will near records end . Blank grove was no good on ancient designs a the tip had less polish than now .

Last edited by nigel pearson; 23rd August 2013 at 09:13 AM.
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